In the next of our member federation features, the spotlight is on a nation’s approach to arguably the biggest issue in the sport.
When Christoph Seiler was at the world championships in Beijing last year, he started thinking about a new anti-doping initiative for Swiss Athletics.
“I was sitting in the stadium and we had 18 and 19-year-old athletes competing,” said Seiler, the President of Swiss Athletics. “And I was not really sure if they ever received any kind of anti-doping education.”
Fast forward to the summer ahead, and Seiler can be safe in the knowledge that his federation is doing all it can to provide the information that is needed.
'I Run Clean' is a message proudly promoted by European Athletics, with competitors wearing bibs with those words on at last year’s SPAR European Athletics Cross Country Championships.
Now Swiss Athletics has launched its own programme by extending their existing measures in place for teaching its athletes, particularly the younger ones, about every contingency of anti-doping.
The main objective of Swiss Athletics’ anti-doping initiative is to prevent its young athletes from any wrongdoing when it comes to doping matters.
Their 2016 anti-doping programme includes educational and motivational aspects and addresses athletes, their environment, coaches and staff members.
Seiler explained how it will work.
He said: “The athletes in our teams get medical treatment by one of our doctors once every year. From this year on, our athletes will not only get a medical check-up but also have a session of about an hour where the doctor will address all these aspects of doping.
“The doctor can explain how a test will be conducted, what the rights of the athletes are and what they should look at when they take any kind of medication. This way we can make sure every single athlete in our team is given more awareness than in the past.
“We will aim that our athletes will not miss a test or have a doping test failure by not being aware of the so called ‘whereabouts’.
“Our goal is to prevent them from doing something they don’t intend at all - it is a question of awareness.
“We have to make sure our athletes change their minds in the way it is good to be tested and not think of being tested as a nuisance.”
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It could be a memorable year for Swiss Athletics.
The European Athletics Championships in Amsterdam will see one of the country’s great sporting heroes, Kariem Hussein, bid to defend the 400m hurdles title he won on that amazing night at home in Zurich two years ago. And in the pole vault, what a few months it has been for Nicole Büchler.
She broke the national indoor record five times during the winter and has already taken the outdoor mark to 4.78m with a brilliant display in Doha at the start of last month. It is the best by a European this year and installs her as one of the favourites for a medal in the Netherlands in just a few weeks time.
Achieving that would be the best message any nation, let alone Switzerland, could send out to their youngsters wanting to break into the sport.